STYLES OF PLAY
The two main styles that you will see, and that we will be discussing, are referred to as TAG (Tight-Aggressive) and LAG (Loose-Aggressive).
These styles are all you really need to know to become extremely profitable.
There are many other styles that you can choose to play, and that you will find your opponents playing including tight, loose, crazy, risk adverse, or any number of other labels.
Remember: There is no one correct way to play. All styles of play can be profitable, and vise-versa. The style of play will not dictate whether a player is ultimately profitable or not.
Commonly referred to as TAG, this style of play is the most common out there. There are seasoned high stakes pros that consistently win millions playing this style.
I recommend most of my students to begin with this style when learning the game. It is a very profitable way to play, and easy to pick up. It also keeps you out of uncomfortable spots with marginal hands.
It basically means that you are tight before the flop, and aggressive after the flop. So you pick your starting hands carefully, generally sticking to the top 10% of hands. But when you do choose to play one of these hands, you play it aggressively.
Example: You are dealt pocket 10s. It is a good starting hand so you raise into the pot. You then keep up your aggression with a continuation bet on almost every flop (even when a scare card like an Ace flops). You don’t have to go much further with the aggression after the flop bet, unless your hand still appears to be good as the turn and river unfold.
The key aggression is on the flop.
You don’t need to be overly aggressive and go broke. If your opponent shows strength and you believe you are beat, you can give up the pot.
“Everybody is different. Everybody has different styles. Just do it the best way you know how.”
Commonly referred to as LAG, it means that you are loose before the flop, and aggressive after the flop.
In general, LAG players will raise and re-raise more than the TAG player before the flop. They will not only raise with a wider range of hands, but also from more positions at the table.
A tight player may choose to fold 78 suited when it is dealt to him, and a LAG player may raise it happily. Neither play is wrong.
The important attributes that they share is the aggression after the flop, and good decision making on the turn and river.
Loose/aggressive players can also benefit from their loose image when they get dealt a big hand. Because they play more pots than average, people will tend to not believe them as much and pay them off.
CHOOSING A STYLE
If you naturally like to play more aggressive, then don’t be afraid to lean towards a LAG style. The same is true for if you naturally prefer a tighter style. You don’t need to go against your personality.
Let situations dictate your style.
Poker is all about situations, and adapting to your opponents as well as the flow of the game. Although you may have more of a Tight/Aggressive style overall, you may want to loosen up into more of a LAG style if the situation dictates it. This is referred to as changing gears.
Changing gears: Good players generally play tighter when the other players at the table are playing loose. They then will change gears into a looser style when their opponents are playing tight or on a money bubble. Applying this basic of strategies is essential to becoming a good player.
Clear spots to change gears: If you are in late position, near a money bubble, or deep in a big tournament, you may want to loosen up and raise a few more hands in an effort to chip up while your opponents are playing tight.